Tigers look to continue dominance
12:00 AM, November 03, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 04:38 AM, November 03, 2018

Tigers look to dominate in Sylhet's first

Mustafizur likely to be rested

Bangladesh's growth in Tests has not quite matched their progress in ODI cricket as just 10 wins in 108 matches show. Among their most monumental results in the format are wins over Australia and England at home on tailor-made pitches that favour spin bowling, so the Tigers may opt for the same strategy when they take on Zimbabwe at the Sylhet International Stadium today in the first match of a two-Test series.

The match beginning at 9:30am will also mark Sylhet's debut as the country's eighth Test venue, and in most estimations it's most picturesque.

The city is all set for the auspicious occasion and the excitement is palpable -- a huge crowd is expected at the 18,000-capacity stadium to witness their very first international red-ball game.

Amid all the enthusiasm and joy there will be some concern about how Bangladesh capitalise on favourable conditions to test the visitors, who have already been whitewashed in the three-match ODI series.

Head coach Steve Rhodes will surely have their lowest ever Test score of 43 runs against the West Indies in July this year at the back of his mind and the need for marked improvement should be at the top of his list of priorities.

In the absence of two of their most experienced cricketers in Test and T20I skipper Shakib Al Hasan and opener Tamim Iqbal, the team think tank however is not willing to experiment too much and is rather banking on their strength, which is the spin department.

The pitch is still a mystery for many -- despite having a grass covering even two days back the surface looked dry yesterday.

It was learned that the team management has decided to rest their best fast bowler in Mustafizur Rahman as the left-arm seamer is dealing with a niggle.

According to sources close to the team, the team management is split into two segments with one thinking of playing two seamers in local boys Abu Jayed and potential debutant Khaled Ahmed. Khaled has already caught Rhodes's attention after coming into the side on the back of a 10-wicket haul in first-class cricket.

On the other hand, another segment is more keen to bank on spinners and want to pick three spinners. Mehedi Hasan Miraz and Taijul Islam are the two sure shots, while uncapped left-arm spinner Nazmul Islam may be the third one.

Apart from Nazmul and Khaled, seam-bowling all-rounder Ariful Haque -- picked in the Test squad to score quick runs in the lower middle order -- is almost certain to make his Test debut and he will give the team an extra bowling option.

In the batting department, Liton Das is expected to open the innings along with Imrul Kayes. Both are in good form, with Imrul striking two centuries in the ODI series and Liton hitting his maiden ODI century in the final of the Asia Cup in September, before following it up with the country's fastest first-class double-hundred.

Mominul Haque is expected to play at the specialist number three position while young Nazmul Hossain Shanto -- who played his only Test against New Zealand last year -- is likely to bat at number four.

Zimbabwe, on the other hand, will be looking to utilise the opportunity in the longest format since last playing a Test back in December 2017, when they were beaten within the first two days of an experimental four-day Test against South Africa.

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